Kids First: You Can't Start a Dialogue About Sex With Your Child at the Age of 12
Thursday, March 1, 2012 • 9:47am
If you wait until you think your children are interested in the opposite sex to raise the topic, then you not only have missed a chance to establish an open dialogue on the subject, but you have also allowed them to have learned a lot of erroneous information from their peers. The time to start your child’s sex education is when they are very little and learning about their genitalia is no more interesting than any other body parts. Such is the message from Susan Cohen Esquilin, Ph.D., this month’s guest on Kids First with host Dr. Rosalie Greenberg, a child and adolescent psychiatrist. “As both a mom and doctor I know this information is vital to parents. Everyone feels at last slightly uncomfortable initiating a conversation about sex with their child, so I wanted parents to understand that it should be a process, not a single event.”
Dr. Greenberg and Dr. Esquilin, who is a nationally recognized expert in child protection issues and maintains a private practice in Montclair, both agree that no matter what the age of the child, parents need to project a healthy attitude about human sexuality and always be ready to listen and answer the child’s questions in an honest and age appropriate fashion.
In this episode of Kids First, Dr. Esquilin stresses the importance of parents introducing the topic of sex early, usually by using the appropriate name for body parts and not being coy or silly as children begin to ask pointed questions. Her advice is to answer the question directly, with the amount of information with which the child is old and mature enough to comprehend. Dr. Esquilin is quick to advise explaining to your child that this is something only shared at home, out of concern that your child should suddenly wish to educate their classroom.
Dr. Esquilin also encourages parents to take advantage of the many well illustrated books for children now available. “Children are naturally curious, so they will be full of great questions. You want to give them the right amount of age appropriate information so they feel comfortable returning to you for more over the years,” adds Dr. Greenberg.
Next month Dr. Esquilin returns as a guest on Kids First. She will join Dr. Greenberg and Sharon R. Wells, author of, Without Permission, and founder of Angels Wings Bridge Foundation, for an important discussion of what parents need to know about childhood sexual abuse.
The host of Kids First is Rosalie Greenberg, M.D., a board- certified child and adolescent
psychiatrist and the author of Bipolar Kids: Helping Your Child Find Calm in the Mood Storm. She is also the co-producer of the DVD “Rescuing Childhood: Understanding Bipolar Disorders in Children and Adolescents.” She is recognized as one of the Top Doctors in Child Psychiatry in the Castle Connelly NY Metropolitan Area Guide (2001-2011), New York Magazine (2005-2011), New Jersey Monthly Magazine (2005), New Jersey Life Magazine (2006) and Inside New Jersey-A Star Ledger Magazine (2009 - 2011). Dr. Greenberg is a former assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and maintains a psychopharmacology practice in Summit, NJ.
To view the program, please go to: www.kidsfirstrgmd.com. Kids First can also be seen on HomeTowne Television, Comcast - Channel 36 and Verizon - Channel 33, at the following times: Sundays at 10:30pm, Mondays at 12:30pm, Tuesdays at 6:30pm, Fridays at 10am and 9pm, and Saturdays at 8:30pm.